Empire is and always will be the story of When Cookie Met Lucious (And Unfortunately Never Escaped), as Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) proves with his upcoming album of that name. But, when Cookie’s new love interest, Angelo Dubois, arrived in a Taye Diggs package, I hoped our Lyon Queen (Taraji P. Henson) had finally found a reason to end one of TV’s most toxic relationships once and for all. Then came season 3's episode “Love Is a Smoke,” and I realized how very wrong I was.
Angelo finally proposes to Cookie after weeks of hinting that the power couple was preparing to take the next step. The proposal is everything someone like over-the-top Cookie would want, since it occurs on live television and a gigantic diamond is involved. Yet, her reaction is a terrified, “Oh my god.” Although the mom of three lets Angelo put a ring on her finger, she explains backstage she still has feelings for Lucious.
While that is the worst emotional response ever — Lucious is trash and you will never get me to say otherwise! — there are countless other reasons Cookie obviously shouldn’t marry Angelo.
Chief among them is that Cookie is using this relationship to right something she considers a past mistake, not because she’s in love with Angelo as a person. When Cookie was a teen, she had a Very Nice Boyfriend, the college-bound Barry (Denzel Love). Barry was going to be a doctor, wanted Cookie to stay in school, and, most importantly, Cookie’s dad John loved Barry. However, John (Ray Austin), hated Lucious and ended up having a deadly heart attack when Cookie chose her rapper boyfriend over her family.
A big part of Cookie is convinced her father died because she didn’t choose Barry. It’s also pretty obvious she ended up becoming a drug dealer and going to prison because she didn’t choose Barry. So, now, Angelo is her second chance at picking Barry, which is kind of awful for everyone involved. Angelo isn’t being treated like a multidimensional person, but as a stand-in for some random nice doctor from the Cookie's Philadelphia area.
On top of all this psychological drama throughout season 3, “Love Is a Smoke” offers up yet another subtle reason that Cookie should never become Angelo’s wife. In a surprisingly nice scene, Cookie talks to Lucious about her imminent proposal. Then, Angelo calls Cookie from inside her home, and the Lyons agree the mayoral candidate is probably about to propose. As Cookie is about to leave Lucious’s estate, he gets a call from known thug Shyne Johnson (Xzibit) and Lucious prepares to go deal with it. Without thinking, Cookie immediately says, “Well, if you need me to roll just give me the pistol.” What?!
Cookie literally believes she's on her way to accept a proposal from Angelo, who is already in her house, and she is ready to throw all of that out the window to be Lucious’s ride-or-die. That’s already bad, but it’s even worse when you realize Cookie is dating a man who wants to be mayor and she’s talking about intimidating — and possibly murdering — someone with a gun. These are not the actions of a woman who truly wants to be New York City’s first lady.
I’m happy Cookie didn't accept Angelo’s proposal. Although now I’m kind of dreading the Dubois clan’s clapback.